Mark’s Blog

Where are you from? and Where were you born?

Have you ever heard someone ask ‘Where are you from?’ Or perhaps ‘Where were you born?’

We know what the person means but here’s the thing – they often won’t get the sort of answer they’re looking for. And rightly so.

What is your cultural background?

A better question is one I’ve been using for over 20 years. It’s: “May I please know your cultural or ethnic background?” And it’s worked a treat.

I’ve never had anyone get annoyed or refuse to answer. I can honestly say I’ve had a 100% success rate.

A possible response is: Guess. 

Interestingly, about one in 20 ask me to guess. And I’ve even had a taxi driver add: If you get it right, the trip’s for free. But just for the record, I got it wrong.

It works

So if the occasion suits, and you want to engage and make people feel proud of their heritage, try asking: What is your cultural or ethnic background? It works for me.

And before we go, here’s a quick video to sum up.

All the very best,

Mark McPherson.

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